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Previously sailed only on RCI Liberty of Seas, also from Galveston, Thanksgiving 2017. This was a last-second purchase for Spring Break. Only place we could get 2 rooms was the spa deck. We got one balcony and the one oddball interior room and had to split our adults across the two rooms to make the booking legal. (My wife and I are 50 and 47, son is 15, daughter is 9). Drove down from Austin. Embarkation was very smooth and quick. Muster drill boring but fine. I had the carnival Hub app, and used it; wife and son had it but never used it; daughter didn't have a device. We were forced into "Anytime dining" (and waitlisted at that). We ate all dinners in the MDR; which we enjoyed very much on the previous cruise. Dinners on this cruise were OK, but not up to what LOS provided. Checking in via app worked all nights but one; and in 5 out of those 6 nights it was a very short wait. All in all that was just fine. One night the app wasn't working (the reservation system wasn't reporting availability to the app) so we had to go down to JavaBlue and check in in person. This took a while and was annoying; had we done that all nights I'd have had a much more negative view of the anytime dining thing. First sea day it was cool and mostly pouring rain. Wife and I did a massage (couples massage). It was OK; started late but got the booked time in. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Also watched 2 IMAX movies (the short ones) this day - pandas (excellent!) and rescue dogs (good). Couldn't do any other activities due to rain. Watched the opening Clue! show in the theater - got there early and got a good seat (the only good seat we got all week). Had 3 good days on excursion days. Getting off the boat was easy in the 2 normal ports, but the tender to Belize was a bit of a madhouse (large groups of confused people in the theater). Getting back on was fine too. Ate generally later in the MDR those nights but still no major issues except the one time the app didn't work. Second sea day (headed back north) we quickly did the skybikes (which were awesome, but ALWAYS had a very long wait). Did the ropes course with my daughter twice. Definitely scary! Pool and hot tub full of other peoples' less well-behaved kids made relaxation hard to come by. (Our kids don't do camps either so we couldn't hang out on the adults-only deck much; only made it up to the hot tub there one time). Third sea day we also tried to stay out on the deck but similar results, and started to get chilly again. Spa rooms: Quieter than the rest of the ship. Special toiletries no big deal. Nicer towels. The actual thermal room you get access to for free is no big deal. Very shallow weird hot tub (you have to lay down in it) - nice for a little while but not good for long relaxation or reading. The hot tiled chairs were almost always full. We didn't use the free fitness classes offered as part of the spa room deal either so I can't say anything pro or con. Entertainment: They tried hard, but quality not as good as on past cruise. Theater sightlines are horrible; you need to get there very early if you actually want to be able to see most of what's going on. Activities; SkyRide is really fun; get in line VERY EARLY. Ropes course is scary but fun! Waterslides are quite good. (Better than LOS's, which were lame). IMAX is neat. Thrill theater wasn't worth the time. We had a bad pictures experience which was a little embarassing to me as somebody who usually has his stuff together, but as it wasn't clear HOW to get the photos off the boat (they said to use the app, but pictures were linked to each one of four folios; only I had the app; and the guy working the desk was no help), I assumed we'd be able to download via an email link later. Big mistake! Had to call somebody at Carnival, and to their credit, they were extremely nice and very helpful and quickly mailed me 2 flash drives with the pictures we had purchased). Debarkation: absolutely horrible. We paid attention to the rules and chose to walk off with our own bags given that we were on deck 14. Got out of our rooms when we were supposed to and posted up in the elevator area on 14 with two other groups, only to wait for 2 more hours as the cruise director kept announcing decks below us AND started letting checked bag zone people off too (had we known they'd do this, we would have checked and then been waiting down in the lounge with them instead of sitting on the floor). After two hours up there, we were nearly the last ones off the ship; and then got to spend 2 more hours in the customs like at Galveston's 3rd-world cruise terminal. Horrible end to a good cruise made our recollection of the whole week rather mixed. Excursions: Cozumel: Dolphinaris ("Dolphin Swim with Unlimited Food & Drinks"). Told in morning that all non-dolphin activities were unavailable due to weather (not really thrilled about this). Long wait for taxi; short ride; madhouse getting in; incredible experience with dolphins when we got in the water; seemed very non-rushed (felt like we got a lot of time in the water after all); average buffet lunch; somewhat sketchy cash-under-table discount on picture package; pictures are INCREDIBLE. Short cab ride back to port. Belize: Sharks, Rays, Barrier Reef Snorkel & Island Escape. Madhouse waiting for tender. Ride to Belize City, short walk to adjacent pier, grouped up, boarded smaller boat. Very uncomfortable ride out past Caye Caulker to barrier reef. Crew nice, entertaining and engaging. Snorkel sets were of decent quality. Got in water, guided snorkel one way to pickup along reef; guides coaxed out a Moray Eel for us to look at. Good coral, nice fish. Got back on boat, moved to grassy area where nurse sharks and stingrays come out to be fed; everybody but wife got back in water; enjoyable time there (stingrays are friendly and curious; nurse sharks mostly hang out under boat and seem a little skittish; guide got one out and held it for people to see). Then back to Caye Caulker for lunch at "the split". Wife can't stop raving about her lunch (seafood); I had a traditional chicken stew; kids had boring kids' meals. Nice place to hang out for an hour; son and I did the jump off the big platform; VERY hard to swim back around into cove (strong current here!). Back on boat, short visit to a 'hole' on backside of caye where juvenile tarpon hang out; nice display of jumping fish; then long ride back to BC; almost immediate trip back to tender and back to cruise ship. Roatan: Extreme Zip-line & Beach Adventure. After doing a little research ahead of time I learned this was all going to be in the captive port; but it turned out to be a very good day. Zipline started early; very uncomfortable but short truck ride up steep dirt road; then 5 or 6 long ziplines that were a lot of fun. Seemed very safe, nice scenery. On last zipline, you end up in the top of the bar down at the beach, and the volleyball players tossed me up a ball which I spiked (hooray!). Family took skyride back to shops area (skyride is very nice but very slow; make sure you have sunscreen or cover!); son and I walked back to zipline base to get out stuff; walked back to shops; we all changed; took skyride back; and went to beach. The beach vastly exceeded expectations in that it was actually nice sand, nice water, and the food and drinks weren't any worse than any US beach town would provide. Had a plenty good time here, and there was even decent snorkelling way down at the far end (healthy coral and some fish). Sky ride back in again and then let the wife shop for a couple hours and then back on boat. Overall this was my favorite day but the wife liked Belize better; all 3 were above par from what we picked on the last cruise.

Fun but flawed

Carnival Vista Cruise Review by mdahmus

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Cloud 9 Spa Balcony
Previously sailed only on RCI Liberty of Seas, also from Galveston, Thanksgiving 2017.

This was a last-second purchase for Spring Break. Only place we could get 2 rooms was the spa deck. We got one balcony and the one oddball interior room and had to split our adults across the two rooms to make the booking legal. (My wife and I are 50 and 47, son is 15, daughter is 9).

Drove down from Austin. Embarkation was very smooth and quick. Muster drill boring but fine. I had the carnival Hub app, and used it; wife and son had it but never used it; daughter didn't have a device.

We were forced into "Anytime dining" (and waitlisted at that). We ate all dinners in the MDR; which we enjoyed very much on the previous cruise. Dinners on this cruise were OK, but not up to what LOS provided. Checking in via app worked all nights but one; and in 5 out of those 6 nights it was a very short wait. All in all that was just fine. One night the app wasn't working (the reservation system wasn't reporting availability to the app) so we had to go down to JavaBlue and check in in person. This took a while and was annoying; had we done that all nights I'd have had a much more negative view of the anytime dining thing.

First sea day it was cool and mostly pouring rain. Wife and I did a massage (couples massage). It was OK; started late but got the booked time in. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Also watched 2 IMAX movies (the short ones) this day - pandas (excellent!) and rescue dogs (good). Couldn't do any other activities due to rain. Watched the opening Clue! show in the theater - got there early and got a good seat (the only good seat we got all week).

Had 3 good days on excursion days. Getting off the boat was easy in the 2 normal ports, but the tender to Belize was a bit of a madhouse (large groups of confused people in the theater). Getting back on was fine too. Ate generally later in the MDR those nights but still no major issues except the one time the app didn't work.

Second sea day (headed back north) we quickly did the skybikes (which were awesome, but ALWAYS had a very long wait). Did the ropes course with my daughter twice. Definitely scary! Pool and hot tub full of other peoples' less well-behaved kids made relaxation hard to come by. (Our kids don't do camps either so we couldn't hang out on the adults-only deck much; only made it up to the hot tub there one time). Third sea day we also tried to stay out on the deck but similar results, and started to get chilly again.

Spa rooms: Quieter than the rest of the ship. Special toiletries no big deal. Nicer towels. The actual thermal room you get access to for free is no big deal. Very shallow weird hot tub (you have to lay down in it) - nice for a little while but not good for long relaxation or reading. The hot tiled chairs were almost always full. We didn't use the free fitness classes offered as part of the spa room deal either so I can't say anything pro or con.

Entertainment: They tried hard, but quality not as good as on past cruise. Theater sightlines are horrible; you need to get there very early if you actually want to be able to see most of what's going on.

Activities; SkyRide is really fun; get in line VERY EARLY. Ropes course is scary but fun! Waterslides are quite good. (Better than LOS's, which were lame). IMAX is neat. Thrill theater wasn't worth the time.

We had a bad pictures experience which was a little embarassing to me as somebody who usually has his stuff together, but as it wasn't clear HOW to get the photos off the boat (they said to use the app, but pictures were linked to each one of four folios; only I had the app; and the guy working the desk was no help), I assumed we'd be able to download via an email link later. Big mistake! Had to call somebody at Carnival, and to their credit, they were extremely nice and very helpful and quickly mailed me 2 flash drives with the pictures we had purchased).

Debarkation: absolutely horrible. We paid attention to the rules and chose to walk off with our own bags given that we were on deck 14. Got out of our rooms when we were supposed to and posted up in the elevator area on 14 with two other groups, only to wait for 2 more hours as the cruise director kept announcing decks below us AND started letting checked bag zone people off too (had we known they'd do this, we would have checked and then been waiting down in the lounge with them instead of sitting on the floor). After two hours up there, we were nearly the last ones off the ship; and then got to spend 2 more hours in the customs like at Galveston's 3rd-world cruise terminal. Horrible end to a good cruise made our recollection of the whole week rather mixed.

Excursions:

Cozumel: Dolphinaris ("Dolphin Swim with Unlimited Food & Drinks"). Told in morning that all non-dolphin activities were unavailable due to weather (not really thrilled about this). Long wait for taxi; short ride; madhouse getting in; incredible experience with dolphins when we got in the water; seemed very non-rushed (felt like we got a lot of time in the water after all); average buffet lunch; somewhat sketchy cash-under-table discount on picture package; pictures are INCREDIBLE. Short cab ride back to port.

Belize: Sharks, Rays, Barrier Reef Snorkel & Island Escape. Madhouse waiting for tender. Ride to Belize City, short walk to adjacent pier, grouped up, boarded smaller boat. Very uncomfortable ride out past Caye Caulker to barrier reef. Crew nice, entertaining and engaging. Snorkel sets were of decent quality. Got in water, guided snorkel one way to pickup along reef; guides coaxed out a Moray Eel for us to look at. Good coral, nice fish. Got back on boat, moved to grassy area where nurse sharks and stingrays come out to be fed; everybody but wife got back in water; enjoyable time there (stingrays are friendly and curious; nurse sharks mostly hang out under boat and seem a little skittish; guide got one out and held it for people to see). Then back to Caye Caulker for lunch at "the split". Wife can't stop raving about her lunch (seafood); I had a traditional chicken stew; kids had boring kids' meals. Nice place to hang out for an hour; son and I did the jump off the big platform; VERY hard to swim back around into cove (strong current here!). Back on boat, short visit to a 'hole' on backside of caye where juvenile tarpon hang out; nice display of jumping fish; then long ride back to BC; almost immediate trip back to tender and back to cruise ship.

Roatan: Extreme Zip-line & Beach Adventure. After doing a little research ahead of time I learned this was all going to be in the captive port; but it turned out to be a very good day. Zipline started early; very uncomfortable but short truck ride up steep dirt road; then 5 or 6 long ziplines that were a lot of fun. Seemed very safe, nice scenery. On last zipline, you end up in the top of the bar down at the beach, and the volleyball players tossed me up a ball which I spiked (hooray!). Family took skyride back to shops area (skyride is very nice but very slow; make sure you have sunscreen or cover!); son and I walked back to zipline base to get out stuff; walked back to shops; we all changed; took skyride back; and went to beach.

The beach vastly exceeded expectations in that it was actually nice sand, nice water, and the food and drinks weren't any worse than any US beach town would provide. Had a plenty good time here, and there was even decent snorkelling way down at the far end (healthy coral and some fish). Sky ride back in again and then let the wife shop for a couple hours and then back on boat. Overall this was my favorite day but the wife liked Belize better; all 3 were above par from what we picked on the last cruise.
mdahmus’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Cloud 9 Spa Balcony
Cabin 8T 14231
(I don't know which category under Cloud 9 Spa Balcony it was).

Balcony was neat but ended up not spending much time out there due to bad weather on first sea day. Bed was comfortable; shower had good pressure; couch was OK; pretty much met expectations for a decent balcony room. They give you nicer towels (nice) and some special toiletries (didn't care).
Spa Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Belize City
    Belize: Sharks, Rays, Barrier Reef Snorkel & Island Escape. Madhouse waiting for tender. Ride to Belize City, short walk to adjacent pier, grouped up, boarded smaller boat. Very uncomfortable ride out past Caye Caulker to barrier reef. Crew nice, entertaining and engaging. Snorkel sets were of decent quality. Got in water, guided snorkel one way to pickup along reef; guides coaxed out a Moray Eel for us to look at. Good coral, nice fish. Got back on boat, moved to grassy area where nurse sharks and stingrays come out to be fed; everybody but wife got back in water; enjoyable time there (stingrays are friendly and curious; nurse sharks mostly hang out under boat and seem a little skittish; guide got one out and held it for people to see). Then back to Caye Caulker for lunch at "the split". Wife can't stop raving about her lunch (seafood); I had a traditional chicken stew; kids had boring kids' meals. Nice place to hang out for an hour; son and I did the jump off the big platform; VERY hard to swim back around into cove (strong current here!). Back on boat, short visit to a 'hole' on backside of caye where juvenile tarpon hang out; nice display of jumping fish; then long ride back to BC; almost immediate trip back to tender and back to cruise ship.
    View All 13,028 Belize City Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Belize City Cruise Port Review
  • Cozumel
    Dolphinaris ("Dolphin Swim with Unlimited Food & Drinks"). Told in morning that all non-dolphin activities were unavailable due to weather (not really thrilled about this). Long wait for taxi; short ride; madhouse getting in; incredible experience with dolphins when we got in the water; seemed very non-rushed (felt like we got a lot of time in the water after all); average buffet lunch; somewhat sketchy cash-under-table discount on picture package; pictures are INCREDIBLE. Short cab ride back to port.
    View All 13,028 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cozumel Cruise Port Review
  • Ziplining
    Roatan: Extreme Zip-line & Beach Adventure. After doing a little research ahead of time I learned this was all going to be in the captive port; but it turned out to be a very good day. Zipline started early; very uncomfortable but short truck ride up steep dirt road; then 5 or 6 long ziplines that were a lot of fun. Seemed very safe, nice scenery. On last zipline, you end up in the top of the bar down at the beach, and the volleyball players tossed me up a ball which I spiked (hooray!). Family took skyride back to shops area (skyride is very nice but very slow; make sure you have sunscreen or cover!); son and I walked back to zipline base to get out stuff; walked back to shops; we all changed; took skyride back; and went to beach.

    The beach vastly exceeded expectations in that it was actually nice sand, nice water, and the food and drinks weren't any worse than any US beach town would provide. Had a plenty good time here, and there was even decent snorkelling way down at the far end (healthy coral and some fish). Sky ride back in again and then let the wife shop for a couple hours and then back on boat. Overall this was my favorite day but the wife liked Belize better; all 3 were above par from what we picked on the last cruise.
    View All 167 Ziplining Reviews